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Essays

Be Careful What You Wish For

Be Careful What You Wish For

My husband and I waited for 2020 to arrive with a lot of plans and expectations in mind. It was the year he would finally retire from 38 years of ministry in the United Church of Canada, a lifetime of dedication to other people. I counted the days until I would have him all to myself. People wondered how he…

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A Story for Our Times

A Story for Our Times

If we wanted to tell the story of our time – the story of this time – where would it start? Certainly it would start with a group of people who flee the dire conditions of their homeland and, after a harrowing crossing, arrive in a foreign place to find their loyalties immediately questioned, and their language and customs seen…

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From the Garden

From the Garden

Whenever my family gets together, it’s always at my grandma’s house, breaking bread in her kitchen, more chairs than you can count pulled up around her dining table. English bleeds into Punjabi as conversation excitedly flows over warm, delicious food. I know everyone thinks their grandmother is the best cook in the world but in my case, it’s true. She…

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Love Comes Around

Love Comes Around

Some people hate Valentine’s Day. They see it coming and they hiss and boo and say that it’s stupid. Even under threat of the dog house, they say it’s a made-up Hallmark holiday driven by sales, not to be taken seriously. I used to be such a person, but given the way the pandemic has neutered nearly every ceremony and…

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The Importance of Community During the Pandemic

The Importance of Community During the Pandemic

Somehow 2020 is flying by, despite all of the waiting. Time feels broken. Long have we been twiddling our thumbs, and all the while our lives seem to be carrying on without us. Birthdays, weddings, convocations, exhibitions, all manner of ceremonies have been muted; they seem poor imitations of themselves, threadbare excuses for what was only recently taken for granted.…

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Power Failure

Power Failure

When I arrived at university, the first thing I was asked to do was write an English Writing Proficiency Examination, a standard practice, regardless of what I was to major in. I was assured that only five percent of students fail the exam; the results had nothing to do with my grades, and I could retake the exam every term…

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The Dim Light of This Christmas

The Dim Light of This Christmas

If I had to define Christmastime in one word it would be light. The light that illuminates the streets, that shines in the store windows, that decorates trees and balconies; the light in the cribs and in the heart of every child waiting for Santa Claus. For many it signifies the giving of gifts, a time for vacation and taking…

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Drunk Promises Are Hard to Keep

Drunk Promises Are Hard to Keep

Beginning is easy. Finishing is hard. I often have grand ideas for a poem that will never be written. Today, it was: “To the Roses Should They Bloom in the Spring,” which was to be a study in the volatility of nature, and an exploration of the unique pleasure that comes from making predictions towards an uncertain future. My poem…

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A Letter to Mike, the Angsty Squirrel I See on My Porch Sometimes

A Letter to Mike, the Angsty Squirrel I See on My Porch Sometimes

Dear Mike, Did you know that if you lie very still, and very flat, and make sure not to move a muscle, I can still see you? Mike, did you know that you remind me of myself in every changing room of every gym, pool, locker room and youth center I ever went to between the ages of thirteen and…

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On Meeting Irving Layton

On Meeting Irving Layton

In the early seventies, Irving Layton came to our High School in Montreal-North upon the invitation of our eleventh-grade North American Literature teacher. We were for the most part Italian immigrant teenagers and excited to hear the poems of a well-known Canadian literary figure. I remember how the larger-than-life poet, with the stentorian voice, used his hands to emphasize key…

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Twin Chef

Twin Chef

Emma’s hand shook as she presented her dish to the judges. Her lower lip trembled, as did the lavender-infused pannacotta on the bright white plate. This was it. Her last chance. The proof in the pudding. The desperation in the dessert. Her future wobbled in the balance. Either win or go home to a tiny apartment where no one would…

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The Pheasant

The Pheasant

They had married in September and it was the end of October when Giovanni stood alone at Malpensa airport waiting for his Canadian adventure to take off. His sweeter half would have followed after he had had the time to find accommodations and employment. Giovanni did not give much thought to the fact that this was the first time he…

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Famous Poet: Please Give Me a Dollar

Famous Poet: Please Give Me a Dollar

Sometimes I have to laugh. I’ve got three dollars in my pocket. There’s a blinking phone message from my country music pal reminding me that his show is tonight. It’s at a smoky joint full of unshaved loudmouths and their giggly girlfriends with too much makeup clutching beer glasses smudged with lipstick all shades of red. This besotted adventure is…

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Every Novel Has a Soundtrack

Every Novel Has a Soundtrack

Long-form writing is a lonely business. In a previous blog (“Writing With My Feet”), I talked about the role of the gym in my fiction writing (and preventing my shoulders from taking on a permanent slump from crouching over the digital hearth with my imaginary friends, also known as “fictional characters”). But for me and many other writers, music is…

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History of a Dress

History of a Dress

I have had an affinity for Venice ever since, as a child, I was taken to the city by my parents during carnival. Years later, I often returned to research a doctoral dissertation on Venetian art. In June of 2012, though, my visit was quite different from previous ones: I was returning to the city I love to celebrate my…

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